By Tyler Lubben / May 13th, 2014
|Title||Earth Defense Force 2025
|Release Date||JP: July 4, 2013
NA: February 18, 2014
EU: February 21, 2014
|Platform||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Mature|
A fun fact about me is that I hate spiders. They are terrifying, ugly and have absolutely no business existing, period. Oh, what’s that? They eat other bugs? Whatever! If Earth Defense Force 2025 has taught me anything, it’s that the arachnids and insects are all in it together. Plus, I don’t need spiders to clean up other bugs – I can do it my own dang self! At least, that’s what I say after playing the game. Honestly, as a massive arachnophobe, I think I had a huge lapse in judgment when I decided to review this game. Ah, how I suffer for my readers.
As you may have guessed from the name, Earth Defense Force 2025 takes place eight years after the events of its predecessor, Earth Defense Force 2017. Just when it seemed that humanity thought they had routed the Giant Insects from the planet, the monsters suddenly rear their ugly heads once again, and it’s up to the EDF to suit up and wipe out the aliens once and for all. The story is fairly bare-bones. Each mission has you receive orders from command to go wipe out your enemies, which you must do with extreme prejudice. While some of these missions will connect for a slightly longer storyline, most of them are pretty episodic. With massive quantities of enemies on the offensive and giant spaceships numerous enough to cover the sky, EDF 2025 seems to promise an awesome experience full of bug-busting goodness, and… uh… you know… giant spiders. So, did the game deliver a suitably epic experience for the subject matter?
EDF 2025 is made up of 85 missions full of sci-fi monsters, explosions and giant spaceships raining lasers from the sky. These missions all have one very simple objective: kill all enemies! This keeps things fairly straightforward as you play – if it’s human, protect it; if it’s not, destroy it! Gameplay is from a third-person perspective, with the camera locked behind your character. Whether you’re running, jumping or firing, the camera always sticks behind you (though some weapons, like sniper rifles, will allow for first-person aiming). You might think that such a simple objective in every mission would be boring, but gameplay is so hectic, you really don’t have time to get bored. Enemies attack on sight, so you must do the same. You’ll see red dots on your radar in the corner of the screen representing enemy units (usually covering it). Victory generally comes when you can make all those dots disappear. So, to accomplish your objectives, what tools do you have at your disposal?
As the Earth Defense Force is made up of many different soldiers, it would be boring if you were relegated to only one job. Thankfully, EDF allows players to choose from four distinct classes to suit different play styles. First is the fairly standard, but reliable Ranger. Rangers don’t have any special abilities, but make up for it with decent health and speed, as well as fairly impressive firepower. Wing Divers, as the name might suggest, are airborne soldiers with jetpacks. They are easily the most mobile class in the game, with the ability to use fast hit-and-run tactics. The tradeoff is that they have very low health and armor. Next are the supportive Air Raiders. These guys have pretty bad firepower, so they aren’t well-equipped for single player. However, with their ability to call in tanks and other vehicles, as well as air strikes, they’re incredibly helpful in multiplayer settings. Finally, we have Fencers. The juggernauts of the EDF, Fencers have massive amounts of health, as well as the ability to equip four different weapons at once. As you might guess, though, they are also incredible slow, both in movement and turning speed. Quicker enemies will be able to cause a Fencer a lot of grief, but they better hope they don’t get caught in the crossfire of his minigun.
Speaking of weapons, EDF contains a massive arsenal of weaponry to help against the hordes of enemies. Just about anything you can think of – machine guns, lasers, grenades, bazookas, sniper rifles, flamethrowers – chances are there’s some kind of weapon to suit your tastes. New weapons are acquired by picking up green “WEAPON” crates that enemies drop during missions. Interestingly, the arsenal you build is directly related to how well you play. There are five different difficulty settings with which to challenge yourself: Easy, Normal, Hard, Hardest and Inferno. If you stick with Easy difficulty, you’ll have a fairly painless experience, but the game is going to be stingy with what kinds of weapons it gives you. However, if you take on the challenge of higher difficulties, you’ll be rewarded with much more impressive weaponry. These weapons can also be taken back to earlier missions, making it a bit easier to complete those missions on the higher difficulties. Most weapons have unlimited ammunition, though clips will still need to be reloaded. Players can also increase their maximum health between missions by picking up red “ARMOR” crates, also dropped by enemies. Aside from this, enemies will also drop small or large health crates to restore a portion of your health instantly.
Though the hordes of enemies you’ll be taking on tend to fall under the same banner, I broke them into three main factions for easier identification: Giant Insects, Ravagers and Dragons. The Giant Insects are self-explanatory – their forces being made up of oversized ants, spiders and hornets. They tend to like getting up close and personal — Ants will often use their superior numbers to rush you, while Spiders will try to slow and pull you towards them with their webs. They also have some ranged attacks, though melee is usually the order of the day. Unlike the Giant Insects, the Ravagers prefer a more hands-off approach to wiping out humanity. From the safety of their motherships, the Ravagers send down various robotic monstrosities to do battle with the EDF. Their laser attacks are often highly damaging, but also easy to avoid. Their strengths come best when you’re too busy fighting Giant Insects to dodge oncoming fire. Finally, we come to the Dragons. As they are intimately connected with the development of Giant Insects, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that their attacks are fairly similar. True to their name, Dragons prefer divebombing players while raining down fire along the way. They may seem intimidating, but, with such a simple attack pattern, it’s usually pretty easy to knock them out of the sky midflight.
Most of the Giant Insect types have larger, more powerful versions that are considered “bosses,” though these, too, usually end up as standard enemies in later missions. From annoying Queen Ants to terrifying King Spiders to infuriating Queen Hornets, the fights help punctuate missions that might have gotten boring fighting the same enemies over and over. The boss monsters are usually quite similar to their standard counterparts, though they tend to have much more powerful attacks. My favorite by far, though, was the Ravagers’ Quadrupedal Fortress, a gargantuan land-based robot that you meet a few times throughout the game. Most of the time, these encounters are matters of survival, requiring players to simply defeat the throngs of enemies that spill out of its hatches until the mission ends. Eventually, though, you are tasked with destroying it, easily making it one of my favorite moments in the game. I guess the old saying is true: “The bigger they are, the more satisfying it is when you finally bring them down after they lose their invincibility and their weak points are exposed.”
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